Apple may use Arm-based CPUs from 2021

Written by Jennifer Allen

March 30, 2020 | 15:00

Tags: #mac #macbook #rumour

Companies: #apple #arm #intel

Apple may be using its own custom designed Arm-based processors from 2021, if a rumour from analyst Ming-Chi Kuo is anything to go by.

Originally reported by MacRumors, Kuo has announced that he believes several Mac laptops and desktop computers will switch to Arm processors instead of x86 Intel CPUs from 2021. It's a rumour he suggested around this time last year with the idea that it would be implemented in late 2020. Presumably, a delay is occurring due to the state of the world, assuming Kuo is correct, of course.

The thinking behind it is that Apple switching to its own processors could reduce CPU costs by between 40 and 60 percent, while also saving the firm the need to rely on Intel's roadmap plans for processors. 

It would make a lot of sense on the hand, especially as the x86 architecture is pretty old now, and Arm chips could utilise smaller process nodes and therefore run more efficiently. However, compatibility could be a major issue for developers when it comes to porting programs over to the new architecture. It would also mean significant changes for Mac OS which could slow things down a lot, while also making things a lot more expensive in the short term for Apple.

Alongside such CPU related rumours, Kuo also suggested that Apple will integrate USB 4.0 in its systems by 2022 which is a far more promising proposition. USB4 is expected to converge the Thunderbolt and USB protocols which has to be good news, and should in theory result in cheaper and more extensive availability of Thunderbolt accessories. 

Of course, for now, both these prospects are squarely placed in the 'find the salt and pinch it' category, but Kuo has been pretty knowledgable in the past about such things. The main thing that makes us wonder if it'll actually happen is that Intel is expected to achieve a lot in 2021 with some significant process improvements ahead, which surely Apple would like to be a part of. 

It wouldn't be the first time Apple implemented an architecture change, given it went from PowerPC to x86 back in 2005 and Apple could probably do with shaking up a few things, but, well, where did we put that salt? 

In the meantime, there's the recent addition of the 10th Gen Intel CPU to the latest MacBook Air to whet your appetite. 

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